Olivia has always loved children, playing with them, and working with them.
“I was the big kid in primary school looking after the junior infants, and as a teen I was always coaching younger groups.”
After university Olivia moved to London on a sports scholarship (She represented Ireland as a hammer thrower,) where she studied sport psychology before working as a PE teacher.
“I also did some nannying, and I used the picture books I saw as teaching aids. We’d act out the books using gym equipment, or with the Gruffalo, we’d go for a walk in the deep dark woods.”
When her first son was born, Olivia returned to Ireland, teaching English and Learning Support at St Brendan’s in Killarney. Then after her second son’s birth she took time out and started to write.
“I made up stories for my children and I ended up writing them down. If children love something, you know it.”
Olivia then worked in schools as Creative Associate for the Arts Council.
“During Covid I was commissioned by Siamsa Tíre, as assistant artist to write a story for an art exhibition for children.”
Olivia gained her agent, Clare Wallace, at the Cork World Books Festival following advice and support from Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin.
Who is Olivia Hope?
Date of birth: 1975 in Killarney County Kerry.
Education: St Brigid’s Presentation Secondary School, in Killarney; University of Limerick, PE and English Literature; Open University, Psychology; Brunel University, Post Grad, Sports Science.
Home: Barraduff neat Killarney.
Family: Married with 3 sons aged 17, 14 and 10. Dog, Rocco.
The Day Job: Creative Learning Assistant for Siamsa Tíre.
In Another Life: “I’d thought of going to Art College. If I had, I might have become an illustrator for children.”
Favourite Writers: Carson Ellis; Shaun Tan; Oliver Jeffers; Lu Fraser; Liane Moriarty; Hilary Mantel.
Second Novel: Little Lion Girl. (Due out next summer.)
Top Tip: “Read outside your comfort zone and put yourself in a brave space. The you find magic.”
The Debut: Be Wild Little One. Illustrator, Daniel Egnéus. Bloomsbury: €8.19.
This fabulous picture book celebrates the wildness in us all – if we can keep our hearts and minds open to beauty.
The Verdict: Enchanting. This deserves to become a classic.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 11th June.
© Sue J Leonard. 2022.